During a primetime address to the nation Thursday night, President Joe Biden requested a $106 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine and Israel.
The request comes in the wake of Hamas’s October 7th attack on Israel, which is being used to drum up additional support for Ukraine – who has already received over $75 billion since Russia’s illegal invasion commenced in early 2022.
To justify the request for an additional aid package to Ukraine, Biden is insisting that the Hamas attack and the Russian invasion are related.
But with the foreign aid sent to Ukraine threatening to eclipse the twelve-figure mark, without an end to the conclusion in sight, some citizens are beginning to wonder what exactly the US’s end goal is. My best guess: to bleed Russia dry.
Bait and Bleed?
In Dr. John Mearsheimer’s seminal book on offensive realism, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, the professor describes a tactic called “Bait and Bleed.”
Under the bait and bleed doctrine, a state will induce two other rival states into a protracted war of attrition against one another. The objective of the instigator-state is for the two warring states to expend valuable resources on fighting one another, hence weakening their positions, and hence becoming less of a threat to the instigator-state.
So, did the US bait Ukraine and Russia into conflict with one another for the purpose of bleeding them of their resources? Probably not. The US didn’t have much incentive to bait the non-threatening Ukraine into a conflict. And although the US has been credibly criticized for inducing the Russo-Ukraine War through NATO expansion and active courtship of Ukraine, it seems unlikely that instigating a war between Russia and Ukraine was the goal (however obvious the war’s inevitability may have been).
What seems more likely to have occurred in Ukraine is a version of what Mearsheimer calls “Bloodletting,” which is essentially a version of Bait and Bleed, without the intentional incitement. In bloodletting, two rival states go to war organically, and the third party encourages the conflict to continue, as long as possible, in order to bleed the warring nations of their resources and military power. Is the United States bloodletting Russia on Ukraine? Yes, it certainly seems that way.
Prolonging the conflict
Ukraine’s valiant resistance of superior Russian forces would not have been possible without western – especially American – military aid.
The infusion of western military tech and funding has allowed Ukraine to resist Russian advances, leading to a war of attrition that has been described as the most vicious fighting on the European continent since World War II.
As the fighting persists, the US has not moved to initiate a peace agreement. Rather, the US has encouraged (and enabled) Ukraine to continue holding out against Russia, suggesting that the US is entirely comfortable with a prolonged conflict.
Why? The Biden administration has pushed an explanation centered around morality and diplomacy and doing what’s right in the face of evil. But the actual motives behind US involvement in Ukraine (and the subsequent war of attrition) may simply be a modern example of Mearsheimer’s bloodletting. It wouldn’t be the first time. The US funded and armed the mujahideen in their war against the Soviet invaders of Afghanistan, leading to a war of attrition that caused the Soviet Union to expend vast resources, in a debacle that is generally credited with accelerated the Soviet Union’s disintegration. The Biden administration may be angling for a similar end goal in Ukraine.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.